My Phone Ruined My Relationship

"He started to recognize every notification sound and would say something like, 'Great. Instagram is blowing you up again.'"

Star, 33, was with her boyfriend for four years before she got pregnant. After giving birth, she threw herself back into her public relations career and became more heavily involved with social media—but constantly being on her phone took a toll on her relationship. 

For a long time, I really thought Eric* was my soulmate. We'd been friends for a few years prior to us dating, so it was not only a relationship, but a really strong friendship. He really courted me in the beginning and was always texting me things like, "good morning," "I miss you," and all that good stuff. After about four years together, we moved in together and it was great. We had small arguments here and there about things like, "why didn't you put the cap back on the toothpaste?" but never anything huge. We'd even discussed getting married, but that took a backseat when I unexpectedly got pregnant. After that, the plan became to get married when our son got a little bit older so he could be in the wedding with us. 

I'd always worked in public relations, but once I got pregnant, I stopped working while I prepared for the baby. By the time I started working again, my job had changed completely. I'd always been on the phone occasionally doing little things for clients, but by the time I got back into the field, social media management had become such a huge part of PR that I was on my phone all the time. 

Eric didn't understand what that new aspect of my job meant and he really hated it. I didn't think I was on my phone that much more often, but he was really upset by it. He started showing his disapproval by saying things like, "Are you getting on the phone again?" and I'd just say, "Yeah, I'm working again." After a while, he even started to recognize every notification sound and what it meant and would say something like, "Great. Instagram is blowing you up again." I couldn't understand why he was so bothered by it because I told him it was just for work, but he never believed me. 

Star Bourne

(Image credit: Star Bourne)

I eventually tried to explain to him what hashtags were, so he'd have a better idea of what my job was and why I was always on my phone, but somehow it made him even more angry. He doesn't really use social media and didn't understand what a big deal it was or why it was that important or how much time it took up. 

Sometimes I would have 12 hour work days and spend 8 of those hours on my phone. It occurred to me that I could just show him what I was doing online, but explaining it didn't work and I didn't want to have to run every single post by him just because he didn't trust me. I did have some friends who told me I should've made more of an effort to show him everything I was doing, but I felt like he needed to trust me more. We'd been together for over four years and had a child together and all of the sudden he'd become convinced that because I was on my phone all the time, I had to be cheating. 

It got even worse when our son got older and I decided to homeschool him. After a long day of homeschooling, I'd only have a few hours at night to work and he would spend that time nagging me about why I had to be on my phone that whole time. Even though we'd talked about it over and over again before, he really wouldn't let it go. 

It got to the point where our mutual friends got involved and would try telling us, "Guys, you're better than this,"  and try to get him to let it go, but that didn't help. Eric would usually just agree with them while they were in the room and then still be mad at me once they'd left. 

At some points, I started to wonder if his possessiveness was really just a cover for his own cheating and that's when I knew I had to end it. I didn't want to turn into the crazy person who's stalking my boyfriend and wondering what he's doing in the same way he worried about me. Still, we'd been together for so long and we had a child, so it was really hard. 

The real turning point came when my son turned two and we were throwing a birthday party for him. I was working with some extra clients just before the birthday so I could get a little extra money for the party, and, of course, Eric and I got into a fight about how often I was on my phone. He got so angry that he didn't even show up to the birthday party for his own son. That was it for me. 

We had a screaming match when he got home and I packed all of his things and dropped it off at his mom's house, because I knew that's where he'd end up once he left. He kept calling me an "online ho," and other really stupid things, but he moved out and we have been co-parenting for about a year now. 

Nowadays, I only really see him when he visits our son and we make small talk, but it's very hard to see our family apart like this. Sometimes he'll tell me that if I ever want to ditch my phone and change careers, we can get back together, but I don't want to change my entire life just so he can feel secure. 

When I look back on it, I can see that he chose to fight over a phone. He chose to have that end our relationship. The trust issues were on his end and there was nothing I could do about that. 

I have been on a few dates since we broke up and sometimes the person I've been out with would keep checking their phone and I'd get so excited. I'd immediately tell my friends, "He's really into his phone!" My friends will tell me, "That's so terrible," but I tell them, "No, it's not! It's perfect!"

*Name has been changed. 

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Lane Moore

Lane Moore is an award-winning comedian, actor, writer, and musician based in New York City. Her first book, How To Be Alone: If You Want To And Even If You Don’t became a #1 bestseller and was praised as one of the best books of the year by The New York TimesNew York Magazine, NPR, Good Morning AmericaFast CompanyMarie Claire, and many others. Moore also gave a TEDx Talk based on the book, called How To Be Alone. Her comedy show “Tinder Live!” is regarded as one of the best comedy shows in New York City and has been praised by The New York TimesEntertainment Tonight, CBS, Time Out New York, and New York Magazine. She has a monthly sold-out residency in NYC, and also tours rock venues and colleges worldwide. As an actor, Moore plays Kelsey on HBO’s Search Party, and has a recurring role on Rooster Teeth’s What Do You Know? and had a memorable role on season 5 of  HBO’s Girls. She also frequently appears on Comedy Central, VH1, MTV, truTV, and IFC shows. As a musician, Moore is the front person and songwriter in the band “It Was Romance.” In her time as the the Sex and Relationships Editor at Cosmopolitan, she won a GLAAD award for her groundbreaking work championing diverse, inclusive coverage. Moore also hosts the live streaming comedy show How To Be Alone on Twitch, which she calls “PeeWee’s Playhouse for lonely adults.”